Celebrating twenty years in the menswear game (well, as much as you can celebrate in this sombre climate), Dolce e Gabbana decided, not uniquely, to return to their roots. Those roots, in case you forgot, have always been Sicily - and in their time, Domenico and Stefano have covered every cliche, female and male. For every crucifix-strapped Catholic girl gone bad and lace-trussed widow, the boys have trotted out their embodiments of Italian masculinity, from brocade-crusted di Lampedusa dandies to burly stereotypes of Cambrian machismo, stripped-down to shirt-sleeves, torn workmans' jeans and hobnail boots. For the hard times seemingly ahead, it was fitting that Dolce e Gabbana chose the latter incarnation of their male heros as the bedrock for the A/W 2010 show. It was a resolutely down-to-earth affair, with none of the frogged and embroidered razzmatazz with which the boys' boys have recently become synonymous. Instead, we had gritty Italian neorealism: Guiseppe Tornatore's Sicilian epic 'Baaria' flickered in the background, while models emerged dressed in Dolce e Gabbana's take on poverino workwear - coincidentally also some of their greatest hits. Think classic three-piece suits, chunky suede boots, thick knitwear and worn denim and wool all rendered in a kitchen-sink palette of grey, rust and every shade of black. As much black, indeed, as D&G's bank balance - realism chimes with pragmatism, and those wool voile suits, knited seperates and white shirts had a cleansing wearability to them, although many had a striking similarity to garments already hanging in their innumerous boutiques. That's not to say creativity wasn't there, it was just reigned in: witness the trademark bevvy of Dolce boys in their skivvies, this time, a phalanx of modern male supers trussed in plucked and fettered wool-knit thermals. It's a difficult look to pull off - unless you're David Gandy - but twinned with hobnail boots and a hefty peacoat and they looked terrific. Elsewhere, the restraint the duo showed was admirable, and for all the grand staging (a hundred or so models flooding the catwalk at every available opportunity) god truly was in the details as lapels grew and shrank on sharp, torso-hugging Mafiosi suits and white shirts were tricked out with subtle variations in collar, cuff and pintuck. Traditional though it may be, that kind of low-key detail is what catches your eye and, consequently, suddenly feels a whole lot more relevant than a slew of jewel-toned brocade.
For the hard times seemingly ahead, it was fitting that Dolce e Gabbana chose the latter incarnation of their male heros as the bedrock for the A/W 2010 show.